Chisom Jenniffer Okoye
2 minute read
24 Apr 2019
6:10 am

SA cities ‘ill-prepared for harsh weather, climate change’

Chisom Jenniffer Okoye

Due to rapid urbanisation, most poor residents live in poorly located areas and need to be resettled in high-lying areas, an urban planner says.

The storm wreaked havoc throughout the Durban area, 23 April 2019. Picture: Twitter

South Africa’s major cities are “ill-prepared” to deal with harsh weather consequences as a result of them not being able to keep up with sustainable urbanisation – and this is evidenced by the death toll and destruction after the past few days’ rainfall in various centres around the country, according to a city planner.

KwaZulu-Natal was hardest-hit, having reported 32 deaths at the time of going to press due to the violent storm that moved over the eThekwini area on Monday night into Tuesday morning, according to the provincial cooperative governance and traditional affairs department.

The storm led to several roads in low-lying areas being flooded.

The Eastern Cape also experienced severe flooding, which resulted in the displacement of several residents in the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality.

Provincial spokesperson Sonwabo Mbananga said yesterday: “We have evacuated some of the people in the low-lying areas and provided temporary housing.

“We will send our team to assess the damage [on Wednesday], when we are expecting the weather to improve and [in the long term] we are thinking of ways to … resettle them in formal housing on land in high-lying areas.”

South African Cities Network project manager Liteboho Makhele said: “Urbanisation in South African cities has meant the provision of basic services, urban infrastructure and affordable housing has not kept pace with the rapid population growth in cities.

“The result is that the majority of the urban poor live in unserviced, poorly located areas, for example along river banks that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

“With increasingly frequent and extreme weather change, South African cities are ill-prepared to deal with the effects of climate change, which results in loss of life, damage to infrastructure, unexpected expenditure…

“To mitigate the possible negative impacts, cities need to build resilience through inclusive and integrated planning approaches,” said Makhele.

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